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Friday, 8 November 2013

Support for Christianity Should Not Alienate People

Derbyshire village church


This article is the first part of a reply to the comments on my speech What is Uniquely Good about Western Civilisation Derives from Christianity. Most of them have been positive, in agreement with what I said.

This is something we should take more notice of. Militant atheists and anti-Christian people are very vocal, but they only represent a minority of ordinary people's views.

Very few persons have disagreed with my speech. One commenter, though, has sent me observations that, as well as highly critical of the position I take there - even to the point of suggesting that my party Liberty GB, which upholds Christian values and principles, would lose supporters because of this stance -, are detailed enough to warrant a complex answer in more than one part. Here is the first. I’ll call the commenter by his Christian name, Tony.

Some of Tony’s comments remind me of a trial in which, reversing the traditional legal procedure, the defendant is a priori considered guilty until proven innocent, and what is applied to him is a strange, contradictory criterion according to which everything that stands in his favour is discounted as pure chance while whatever stands against him is taken as undisputed evidence of his evil nature.

This is an example of the former:
I agree with you that many wonderful things have come from people professing to be Christians. Public schools and hospitals in Britain are one example. However there is no reason to believe these would not have come about without religion.
In other words, that people professing to be Christian and acting according to the teachings of Jesus and to Christian beliefs and morals created something good is not due to Christianity.

And, immediately after the above, comes an instance of the latter:
The societal benefits that you describe as coming from Christianity came after the Reformation, when the power and influence of Christianity was greatly reduced, and the Church was put in its place. Prior to the Reformation, society was undermined by superstition, religious persecution and backwardness, there was very little in the way of social or scientific development for hundreds of years, which is why it's called The Dark Ages.
Putting aside for a moment the question of the historical accuracy of this description, the double-standard message is very clear: everything good that was done by Christians is not due to Christianity, but everything bad that that was done by Christians is.

Such a position of total enmity and hatred (for once this overused term is justified) for Christianity, which only a few decades ago would have been considered not only offensive but, even more importantly, as absurd as coming from another planet – maybe the planet of Islam -, is perfectly understandable today.

We have to realise that the Left, with its typically 20th century’s creation of Cultural Marxism, has been in power in all Western countries since the end of the Second World War, both when it has been and when it hasn’t been in government.

The power of the Left is ideological, is its grip on every means of spreading ideas and indoctrinating people, in short is cultural. Every other political force now has to confront the theories of the Left which, in the views of the majority, stand on the moral and political high ground – although this can easily be shown as a myth. That communists killed around a hundred million people should act as a simple inspiration for doubting that myth, but apparently communism has remained largely unscathed in Western minds, weirdly disconnected from its effects.

I wonder why. Possibly for the same reason as Christianity is so wildly vilified? Because of socio-communist propaganda dominating schools, universities, media, entertainment?

Hate for Christianity has been mirroring and running parallel to hate for the West, and has led to the historical revisionism, misinformation, ignorance, distortions and propaganda that neo-Marxism has successfully spread in the last 50-60 years. This will be treated in the second part of my article, which will deal with slavery, a classic case of falsification of history and doctrine that has created the myths of the evils of both Christianity and the West.

I know about it beacuse I was a victim of this indoctrination too, and years ago I may have agreed with what Tony writes.

That loathing of Christianity is real can be seen from this comment to my post "From Atheist to Agnostic":
My family is quite devout (or as devout as the CoE permits), and I was bullied a bit for it in school.
Tony says:
To associate Liberty GB with Christianity will alienate a lot of people (myself included). You might also be linked in peoples' minds (and then dismissed) to the Christian fundamentalist movement / religion Right in the USA. This would bring a lot of negative baggage.
That every time someone defends Christianity he (in this case, she) risks being classified as a fundamentalist is very similar to the risk that an individual opposed to uncontrolled immigration to the West or aware of the dangers of Islam will be called racist or Islamophobic.

Both these types of accusations derive from a similar kind of profound misunderstanding.

And also, as American scholar of Islamic culture Raymond Ibrahim wrote in a personal note to me:
[W]hatever the shortcomings of the Christian right in America, vis-a-vis Europe, they certainly have a better approach to Islam, whereas secular-centered Europe is exactly where it is, and going to get worse, because they reject the idea of any connection to Christianity.
Ibrahim expressed my speech's main point as follows:
Christianity, as with all religions, has two aspects, the spiritual (personal) and the cultural (societal): in our context, one need not discuss or even promote the former, but rather it is the latter that needs to make a comeback - the legacy, heritage, etc., that the West can rally behind, give it a core, a sense of collective identity, and of course a moral grounding.
You can find this position represented in a comment to my speech from another person:
I am an Atheist but I believe that a free , strong , democratic society can only exist in the West by following Christian ethics or as in Israel , Jewish ethics ( after all Israel is the only democratic country in the middle east .)
And this is the point: how is it that people who extoll so much the importance of science, as atheists generally do, take so little notice of empirical evidence, which is a foundational element of the scientific method?

If all religions were the same, and in particular if they were equally bad, how is it that they have produced cultures so far apart from each other, with profoundly, extremely different outcomes for the well-being of the corresponding populations? Correlation is not causation, granted, but what broadly divides the West from the Islamic world, and both from the rest, is indeed religion, with all the ideas that it generates.

Only the West, which has always been Christian, has reached peak achievements in all human fields, bringing with it countries that understood its success and imitated it. Those who deny the importance of Christianity should provide an explanation for this phenomenon.

5 comments:

  1. There is something disingenuous (for lack of a better word) about maintaining a 'cultural' Christianity without a 'spiritual' Christianity i.e. actual faith. It is a sort of lie. The former is fuelled by the latter, which is its life blood. One way of putting it is that the former is the spirit/soul of a society, and the latter is the body. I don't think you can have one without the other. I think it might be possible for a minority (probably those who are well educated and well read in history), to maintain such an incongruous position, but I don't think the mass of people will be able to do so. And the majority define a society, not the minority.

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    1. It is perhaps not so much a lie as a failure to disambiguate between two very different ideas which are linked as a result of historical developments (chiefly the adoption of Christianity as the state religion of Rome leading to the formation of the Catholic Church).

      I think that probably many people believe in Christianity at a personal level of preferring the values and moral teachings of Christ, but do not believe in the most common formulations of Christian theology, most of which arise out of the need to bolster the theocratic credentials of a state religion (and then a religion that claimed authority over states themselves).

      The term "atheist" was coined (admittedly from an existing Greek term) by the Catholic Church to mean anyone who denied the essential doctrines of Catholic theology about the nature and status of God. In this sense, I am of course an atheist because the fundamental theology of Catholicism, beginning with ex nihilo creation and proceeding to incomprehensibility and God being too great to even need to exist to exist and thus being able to accomplish anything no matter how logically contradictory because logic and the rules of the universe are nothing more than divine whim before winding up with an eschatology which would seem to indicate that this being that absolutely loves with absolutely no feelings about it either way actually despises and hates with quite a bit of feeling.

      More accurately, I acknowledge the fact that a being immeasurably (by human standards) superior to humans in knowledge, power, and beneficence (defined for our purposes as favorable to advanced life) exists and created both life and the conditions suitable for life on earth. This is a relatively obvious scientific fact if one looks just at the gross physical evidence, even excluding all subjective and anecdotal evidence (which is useful for establishing whether or not such a being most likely exists). From the anecdotal and subjective evidence, it appears that this being has invested in guiding the development of humanity in the direction of 'good' (ethical morality oriented towards the value of life and freedom) while still leaving it possible for humans to choose whether or not to follow this morality.

      Most people would say this makes me a believer in God...but doctrinaire Catholics would disagree, because I do not believe this being to exist without existing, or have created the universe out of nothing, or to simultaneously desire the salvation of every person in the world without feeling anything at all and be perfectly capable of rearranging the logic of the universe to make it possible but just happens to prefer (without actually being partial one way or the other, of course) to let a pretty significant majority of them be damned forever.

      To put it more simply, I have no real problems with the teachings of Christ (including His claim of direct authority from the being that created life and the conditions favorable to it on our planet), but I absolutely cannot accept the teachings of the Catholic Church, largely because many of them make as little sense as the (suspiciously similar) theological teachings of doctrinaire Islam (actually, they make more sense in Islam because Allah isn't 'good' in any sense that involves actually being...y'know, good). Some people would say this means I'm not a Christian (capital 'C'), Catholics would say it makes me an atheist.

      I say that some more reasonable definitions of "Christian" and "atheist" are in order.

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    2. I don't believe that God is superior to the physical laws of the universe (except in benevolence, which counts for a lot). But I don't claim to independently understand what regularities of the physical world I've observed are real physical laws of the universe and which just things God does to keep our planet hospitable to life (such understanding as I do have would naturally be dependent on God making my brain and mind capable of understanding it anyway). I don't dispute God's claim to have powers and concerns which extend beyond our own planet, though I can't prove these claims credibly on the available scientific evidence at this time.

      I especially don't dispute God's claim that, as much as He would like for everyone to willingly accept His offer of life, freedom, and salvation over the alternatives, He cannot force people to accept it without taking away their freedom, without which life and salvation are largely empty of meaning. This involves the implicit claim that there are things God would like to happen which will not happen because the universe doesn't always work just as happens to please Him.

      Of course, such a nuanced system of rational knowledge is not for everyone. Society has to be built around the average intellect, and Catholicism (along with its derivatives) seems sufficient for manipulating the behavior of the unreflective masses. But I personally do not find sufficient evidence that it was designed by God rather than men. I have nothing against it for that, I also take some credit for devising the system of ideas that make sense to my own understanding (with gratitude to God for giving me a mind to use in devising and entertaining such ideas, and the freedom to choose which thoughts to think). I merely could wish that Catholics (and their derivatives) would in turn not hold it against me.

      In the end, there is what we believe in our heart about Christ and what we understand (or not) with our mind, and I think that the former matters a good deal more to the general moral tenor of society than the latter, even if the latter affects it for some people. Which is 'spiritual' and which 'cultural' is perhaps a matter of definition, I regard the feelings of love for Christ and His ministry as being more spiritual than any particular theory about the nature of God, though both of them contribute to human culture, with the theories being easier to put into writing (whether or not they make the slightest sense) and thus having an edge in defining cultural tradition.

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  2. Non-Muslim Westerners who reject Christianity as being part of our excellent and superior British culture, and part of our merciful Western civilization, have no words of condemnation for the cruel, barbaric daily WAR that Muslims wage against Christians.

    Ruthless, anti-human rights Western leaders REFUSE to speak out against
    Islam’s Global War on Christianity. SILENCE IS CONSENT!

    Listen to Paul Weston’s PASSIONATE plea: Islam’s Global War on Christianity
    http://libertygb.org.uk/v1/index.php/news-libertygb/6051-islam-s-global-war-on-christianity

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    1. I'm glad I persuaded Paul to make that video and helped with its research.

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